Looking for a date idea outside of the over-used and unoriginal dinner and a movie? Look no further. LoverSpeak, the annual poetry reading fundraiser organized by Byzantium, Cal Poly’s literary journal, will be held tomorrow in the Graphic Arts building on campus. Attendees will hear a variety of love poems read by Cal Poly students and faculty.
Many of the poems are original works, but some readers will choose to recite classic poems previously published. English professor and poet Kevin Clark said the poetry read will explore the subject of love from several different angles, mentioning that some of the works read in previous years have been downright funny, while others don’t even portray love in a positive fashion. This poetic diversity, Clark said, will add to the event’s entertainment factor.
“We want students to know that it’s entertaining,” Clark said. “Poetry is a great art, and very appropriate for Valentine’s Day.”
The event began more than 10 years ago as a fundraiser for Byzantium, where students would attend in order to hear their professors read their poetry. Last year’s LoverSpeak was the first which allowed students to read their works, and interest among the students increased dramatically, Clark said.
Byzantium co-editor and English senior Brita Shallcross said more than 100 people attended last year’s event, and she hopes for even more this year. Shallcross said listening to peers read poetry is a unique experience, and a refreshing change from interacting with literature in a classroom setting.
From a reader’s standpoint, Clark said reciting poetry is rewarding and gratifying.
“If the audience plugs into what you’re reading, and you can tell they’re on the same wavelength, it’s thrilling to have that relationship with the audience,” Clark said.
Event organizers said those reading original work are expected to have poetry writing experience. Clark teaches an introductory class on poetry writing, and encourages his students to participate in LoverSpeak. Contrary to the stereotype, Clark said, both the poetry students and LoverSpeak readers come from a wide range of majors, not just English.
“We’ve had great poems from engineers, football players, business majors and agriculture students,” Clark said. “It’s an enthusiastic blend of students and faculty coming together.”
Clark and Shallcross said they are optimistic that interest in LoverSpeak will continue to gain momentum as the event becomes popular with a more diverse range of students.
“We’re hoping that it will continue to be this ongoing extravaganza,” Shallcross said.
In order to attract more listeners, the LoverSpeak coordinators plan to make all LoverSpeak attendees automatically eligible to win prizes from various businesses in San Luis Obispo, such as restaurants, coffee shops, yogurt shops and outlets. The event organizers buy the gift cards and offer them as prizes in order to support the local businesses, as well as use some extra incentives to increase attendance.
An added perk for participating poets is the opportunity to have their poem featured in Byzantium, which comes out once every school year. Shallcross said judges will determine the winning poem, as well as second and third place, which will be published in the magazine. Both Shallcross and her co-editor, English junior Chrissy Berry, will choose their personal favorites to be published as well.
For both poets who want to share their work, and love-enthusiasts who want to try something different this valentine’s season, the event is guaranteed to shed some interesting light on a very popular and sometimes controversial topic: love. All the organizers ask is to keep your red roses and blue violets at home.
LoverSpeak is at 8 p.m. in Graphic Arts building, room 104. Tickets are $2 ($3 for the general public).